Standard Newsletter Items

These are standard items for reuse (sometimes with some tweaking) in newsletters and other communications. Items suitable for any time of the year are at the bottom.

UPCOMING HOA EVENTS

MONTHLY BOARD MEETING
Monday, January 23, 2024 (typically held on the 4th Monday of every month)
ZOOM online teleconference Info and log-on instructions will be emailed before the meeting or contact the Onsite Manager for instructions.
Executive Session – 5:00pm
Regular Session – 6:30pm
Open Forum – 8:30pm

TOWN HALL MEETING
Saturday, January 13, 2024 (typically held on the 2nd Saturdays in January, April, July, and October)
9:30-11:00am, Clubhouse Library or East Patio
All residents are invited to attend this informal information sharing event.

Please note that all schedules are approximate as some Board matters may take longer than anticipated. Please bear with us. Thanks! ALL SCHEDULED MEETING DATES & TIMES MAY BE MODIFIED OR CANCELLED AT ANY TIME.


January

  • The quarterly TOT Town Hall is held the 2nd Saturday in January in the Library (unless otherwise announced). See above.
  • Time to consider running for the Board – The annual HOA Board of Directors election is typically held in May, but the process starts much sooner. The January Town Hall is a good opportunity to engage attending Board members with questions (residents are invited to Town Halls but only owners may vote for and serve on the Board). In February, owners are provided candidacy forms by US Mail and may declare their candidacy by the date provided. For more information on the Board and its duties, see topotopanga.org/hoa/. While only owners can serve on the HOA Board, residents and owners may at any time request to serve on committees. For more information, visit topotopanga.org/committees/
  • The Social Committee might consider hosting a “consider joining the board” reception e.g. TOP O’ TOPANGA WINE & CHEESE GATHERING Are you considering running for the Board? Come and enjoy discussion of the upcoming Board Elections, Sunday, March 18, 4-7 PM, TOT Library
  • HOLIDAY AND STREET PARKING REMINDER – Please plan ahead of time to clear away storage that may prevent your on-lot parking spaces from use and register and obtain parking window stickers for your resident vehicles from the onsite office.  Vehicles without visible stickers or guest parking passes may be towed without notice. All vehicles parked in any common area parking space must always display either a TOT Sticker, Guest Parking Pass obtained from the Onsite Manager, or temporarily display visited Homeowner/Resident name, address and phone number, or they may be subject to immediate towing at owner’s expense and responsibility. Residents are responsible for informing their guests that ALL streets in TOT are designated fire lanes and No Parking Zones. Offending vehicles may be subject to citation and immediate towing without further notice. For a copy of all parking rules, please contact the onsite office or visit https://www.topotopanga.org/parking/
  • (Quarterly reminder) Please do not flush anything other than human waste and toilet paper. Our community has its own waste water treatment plan and cannot break down any other material, resulting in costly fixes. Even items that claim to be “flushable” clog our system. Please do not flush “flushable wipes”, diapers, facial tissues, tampons, pads, paper towels,  cotton swabs, condoms, cigarettes, grease, chemicals, medications, or other non-biodegradable products. Please bag these items and put them in the appropriate trash containers. Other safe toilet paper alternatives include bidet toilet seats and perineal irrigation bottles, which can be purchased online.

February

  • Information from the January Town Hall meeting can be shared via the newsletter.
  • Owners are provided HOA Board of Trustees Candidacy Forms by US Mail and may declare their candidacy by the date provided. For more information on the Board and its duties, see Home Owners Association (HOA). Residents may, at any time, volunteer to serve on Committees, many of which are open to non-members.

March

  • YOUR HELP IS NEEDED TO REDUCE THE IRRIGATION POND LEVEL Due to the recent heavy rains, emergency measures remain in effect to keep the pond level below any possible overflow level. You may notice that our hillside irrigation sprinklers are operating for additional cycles. This is being done to help control the pond levels. We are monitoring all recycled and potable water usage to help keep the pond at a safe and sustainable level. Please don’t let water run in sinks, try to minimize shower and bath usage and times, and where possible, flush toilets every two or three uses rather than every use. Additionally, we are asking all residents to minimize general water usage for washing dishes and clothes as much as possible in the next coming days and weeks to help in this process.
  • An informal evening reception can be held for those considering running for the Board. All are invited to mingle with neighbors and active Board members to discuss ideas, plans, and Board responsibilities.

April

  • The quarterly TOT Town Hall is held the 2nd Saturday in April in the Library (unless otherwise announced). See above.
  • IRRIGATION HOLDING POND LEVEL UPDATE Our irrigation pond level continues to be monitored due to the recent heavy rains.  Your cooperation in reducing water usage is appreciated to keep the pond at a safe level as we continue a modified irrigation schedule and system revisions. Please don’t let water run in sinks, try to minimize shower and bath usage and times, and where possible, flush toilets every two or three uses rather than every use. Additionally, we are asking all residents to continue minimizing general water usage for washing dishes and clothes as much as possible in the next coming days and weeks to help in this process.
  • POOL HEATING The pool heater will be turned on in early April, weather permitting. The pool, library, and fitness room are available 5am to 10:30pm daily. The Spa is currently out of service for major repairs. Our Security Team has the authority to ask residents, on occasion, to present a key fob or other form of ID as proof that persons using our amenities have the right to do so. Please be cooperative and ensure you, your children, and your guests comply with all HOA rules and Covid protocols.
  • A “Meet the Candidates” Board Candidate Forum can take place in April or May. Please join your neighbors in the Clubhouse and get to know the candidates on the election ballot.
  • Election info… possible articles
    • BOARD ELECTIONS TO BE HELD BY ACCLAMATION MAY xx
      The entire TOTCA membership was canvassed and [three or four] members—xxx, xxx, and xxx— agreed to submit their names for consideration for the three open Board of Director positions. According to TOT’s election rules, there will not be a balloted election. The Board and attending members will proceed with approval of candidates by acclamation at the May xx Annual Meeting.
    • The Annual Board of Directors Election Ballot package is mailed to membership. Please watch your mailbox and carefully follow the instructions to complete and submit your ballot prior to the Annual Members Meeting (May xx). You can also submit your sealed ballot in person at the meeting or the onsite office.
  • Annual Brush Clearance Notice: Every homeowner should have received the Annual Brush Clearance Notice from the County of Los Angeles by the end of March. County inspections typically begin in our area on May 1, and all brush clearance should be completed by that date. All owners are responsible for maintaining their property in accordance with the requirements listed in the notice (the responsibility of the HOA is to maintain our common areas in accordance with the County’s requirements). If you do not receive a copy of the County notice, or need more information, direct your inquiries to the County Brush Clearance Unit at (626) 969-2375 or our local Topanga Fire Station 69. A special green waste bin will be available at a time to be determined (on Supi, adjacent to the existing trash bins) to assist residents in complying with brush clearance regulations.
  • GREEN WASTE BIN The Green waste bin will be available on Supi (adjacent to the existing trash bins) from April 1st through April 30th to assist residents in complying with the County Fire Department brush clearance regulations mailed to all residents. Here are the guidelines:
    • This special bin for green waste materials only. No bags, plastic, recyclables or trash please.
    • Resident landscapers must haul large amounts of green waste out of the community.
    • NO GREEN WASTE in the regular community trash bins during this time. Thank you!
  • Quarterly “do not flush” reminder (see January)

May

  • Information from the April Town Hall meeting can be shared via the newsletter.
  • PLEASE REMOVE POOL TOYS WHEN YOU LEAVE THE POOL Floating toys and other items used in the pool are permitted, but need to be removed from the pool when you leave.  Leaving them in the pool prevents the pool skimmers and filters from properly being able to clean the pool. Your cooperation is appreciated to keep our pool clean and safe.
  • PLEASE ENSURE STREET SAFETY FOR ALL
    Our streets provide critical walking, running, bicycling, and driving access for all of us, and require conscientiousness to ensure safety.
    Drivers, please be cautious and stay within the posted speed limit of 15 MPH and obey stop signs on all community streets. All of our streets are County designated fire lanes and parking is prohibited at all times.
    Walkers, runners, and bicyclers, please be aware of vehicle traffic at all times. Pets should be kept on a short leash as they may not be easily seen by drivers.
    Children under 12 should be accompanied by a responsible adult when on the streets or using community facilities. Please watch and warn for oncoming vehicles, as children may not be easily viewed by drivers. Streets are not intended for recreational purposes, and should be kept clear of bicycles, skateboards, and equipment.
  • Kids at play: please be cautious. For the safety of our residents, the community provides multiple recreational areas and prohibits recreational activities in TOT streets, which should be kept clear of bicycles, skateboards, and recreational equipment.  Children under 12 should be accompanied by a capable adult when using facilities or on the streets, to watch and warn for oncoming vehicles, otherwise they may not be be easily viewed by drivers. We want to keep our children safe. Please remind family members and guests that streets are not intended for recreational purposes. Drivers must also be cautious and stay within the posted speed limit of 15 MPH on all community streets.
  • The California State Department of Housing & Community Development (HCD) sometimes performs park-wide inspections during May. Advance notice is provided to owners so they may ensure their home and lot is in good, clean condition prior to the inspection. For more information, visit Housing & Community Development (HCD).

June

  • CHILDREN’S AGE REQUIREMENTS FOR POOL USE To keep children safe, please follow our rules which state that an adult (person over eighteen years of age) must accompany children under the age of 14, and that children under the age of five years old are not permitted in the spa.
  • Be mindful of snakes, but don’t kill them: they help control the rodent population. Once the weather gets warm, we may find a snake in our path.  Rattlesnakes strike only as a defensive mechanism to protect themselves: they won’t attack unless provoked. They usually give warning by rattling their tail. When walking, keep you and your pet away from the vegetation at the edges of paths and streets. If bitten, call 911 or get to an emergency room immediately. gopher snakeGopher snakes (pictured) are harmless but are often mistaken for rattlers. They are slimmer and longer, and have no rattles, but can imitate rattlesnakes by “rattling” their tails against the ground in an attempt to fool predators. Snakes are an important, natural control to the rodent population, and it is important to let them do their part in maintaining our ecosystem. If you need to remove and relocate a snake, contact John MacNeil (310) 455-2013, Dan MacNeil 310.455.2234 (H) or 818.730.7379 (C), Doug Allan (310) 579-7667, or call the Onsite Manager.
  • If the HCD Park Wide Inspection has occurred (see May), the HCD will send any violation citations for correction of their findings .

July

  • The quarterly TOT Town Hall is held the 2nd Saturday in July in the Library (unless otherwise announced). See above.
  • See Emergency Preparedness & Contact Info > Fire Warnings: Take Extra Caution
  • Please keep the 4th of July safe – Please make sure that our streets—all of which are fire lanes—are kept clear and that no sparklers or fireworks are used anywhere in the community. Security will have an extra patrol at the gate and within the community on the evening of July 4th. Use of all fireworks is against the law! If you see someone setting off any kind of fireworks or you see a fire, CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY WITH THE EXACT LOCATION OF THE PROBLEM. DO NOT CALL SECURITY, THE ONSITE OFFICE, OR LORDON.
  • Board Election Results
  • IT’s BABY FROG SEASON…watch your step! Baby frogs have been spotted in the grass near the Clubhouse and pool. California Treefrogs are our friends. and eat a wide variety of insects, spiders, centipedes and other invertebrates.
  • WASTE MANAGEMENT TRASH FEE INCREASE – Residents may have received a County-wide mailing from our trash vendor indicating a cost increase.  Please note that this notice was a mass mailing sent to all residents in the County and because we are a commercial account, does not apply to our community. There may be a negotiated increase from Waste Management, but not the noted amount and not at this time.
  • CONSERVING WATER IN THIS TIME OF EXTREME DROUGHT – We are still under extreme drought conditions, and even the simplest changes to daily routines can have a significant impact. These include shorter showers; turning off water when brushing teeth or shaving; installing high-efficiency toilets, aerators on bathroom faucets, and water-efficient shower heads; recycling indoor water to use on plants; fixing pipes; and only using dishwashers and washing machines with full loads. You can track your water bill and meter to see how your efforts affect usage.
  • Quarterly “do not flush” reminder (see January)

August

  • Information from the July Town Hall meeting can be shared via the newsletter.
  • Take wildfire precautions and and be prepared for emergency. Wildfires can ignite at any time of the year, but Topanga is generally more susceptible between September and December when the combination of dry brush, Santa Ana winds, and low humidity is more common. In addition to spring brush clearance, you can protect your home through greater defensible space, and help ensure your physical safety through greater defensible space, and help ensure your physical safety. The North Topanga Fire Council will evaluate your home and give tips as to how to make your home safer. For more information, see Emergency Preparedness.

September

  • See “any time” items below
  • Be on the lookout for the HOA Budget Package that will be sent to members in November via US Mail?

October

  • The quarterly TOT Town Hall is held the 2nd Saturday in October in the Library (unless otherwise announced). See above.
  • The pool is sometimes closed in October. If not… Swimming pool updates… Based on our current and generally warm weather forecasts, the pool heater seasonal shutdown will be based on the weather’s continued cooperation.  There have been some comments regarding the pool contamination lengthy shut-downs. Please note that shut-downs and shock treatments are governed by State Health & Safety regulations and recommendations.  The HOA and our pool maintenance vendor must follow those rules.”
  • Halloween Festivities. There are no planned HOA sanctioned Halloween activities. Parents should use their best judgement with regard to any homeowner organized group activities. All children should be accompanied by an older sibling, parent, or other adult. Make sure your child is visible to vehicles by carrying a flashlight, glow stick, or wearing reflective tape on their costumes.
  • Halloween Festivities. Close to Halloween, residents will be provided a length of yarn or ribbon to tie to their mailboxes to show they will participate in Trick or Treating (Note: Some people have their lights on all the time, so asking people to leave them on if they want to participate won’t work.) (Optional: There will also be a Halloween Parade… see next page for details!) All  children  should  be  accompanied  by  an   older  sibling,  parent,  or  other  adult.  Make  sure  your  child is visible to cars by carrying  a  flashlight,  glow  stick,  or  wearing  reflective  tape  on  their   costume .  (See more safety tips. )
  • Halloween fake spider web decorations are deadly to birds and bees, who can get caught in them and die. Hummingbirds use spider webs to build their nests, which contain toxic substances.  Please be safe and restrict the use of fake spider webs to indoors (and keep it where your indoor pets can’t get to it).
  • Quarterly “do not flush” reminder (see January)

November

  • Information from the October Town Hall meeting can be shared via the newsletter.
  • See ARE YOU LEAVING YOUR HOME FOR AN EXTENDED PERIOD OF TIME?
  • Avoid parking problems over the holidays.Plan ahead of time to clear away storage from your parking spaces and obtain guest parking passes from the Onsite Manager during office hours. Please remind guests that ALL streets in TOT are fire lanes and vehicles parked in fire lanes are subject to citation or immediate towing. For temporary loading and unloading , please leave visible contact info on the dashboard with the resident’s name, address, and phone number.
  • THE BUDGET IS ON ITS WAY HOA members should receive the new budget by the end of November.
  • Holidays often affect the trash and recycling pickup schedule. Weeks in which Christmas day, Thanksgiving day, and New Year’s Day fall typically postpone pickup one day. Visit https://www.topotopanga.org/waste-management/ for the full year’s schedule and more information.

December

  •  Avoid parking problems over the holidays.Plan ahead of time to clear away storage from your parking spaces and obtain guest parking passes from the Onsite Manager during office hours. Please remind guests that ALL streets in TOT are fire lanes and vehicles parked in fire lanes are subject to citation or immediate towing. For temporary loading and unloading , please leave visible contact info on the dashboard with the resident’s name, address, and phone number.

Any Time

PLEASE DON’T USE RODENTICIDES! Rodenticides (e.g. rat poison) are ineffective in dealing with rodents and disastrous to the food chain. Nature provides a better way: natural predation. A Barn Owl will eat 4-6 small rodents a night.  A pair of nesting Barn Owls feeding a family of six will consume almost forty rodents per night. One poisoned rodent can kill an entire family of owls! The other most effective means of dealing with rodents are exclusion (sealing points of entry into buildings and keeping yards free of food) and CO2 cartridge traps. For more information on how to protect your home and garden—and the health of wildlife—visit topotopanga.org/wildthings.


LARGE ITEM TRASH PICKUP If you have large items needing disposal, please contact Onsite Manager Natalie Smith to make pickup arrangements. You will be notified when yoNewsletter – 2024-04 – Top O’Topangaur item has been scheduled. Please make sure your item is properly stored and not left at the curb until you are notified.


OWNERS AND RESIDENTS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR DOGS

Residents are responsible for any violation of Top O’Topanga rules and any damage to property and/or any physical injury caused by their pets or their guests’ pets.

  • Dogs known to be vicious or dangerous, according to L.A. County Animal Care and Control, and some specific breeds, are not allowed in the Community.
  • Any dogs found to attack, menace, chase, display threatening or aggressive behavior, or otherwise threaten or endanger the safety of any person or domestic animal are subject to Board investigation and may not be allowed in the Community.
  • Pets shall not be permitted to roam at large.
  • Dogs and cats must be restrained by a substantial chain or leash not exceeding six feet in length and must be in the charge, care, custody or control of a competent person at all times when outside the Resident’s home.
  • Pets are not allowed upon private residential lots without permission other than those of the person owning or having charge, care, custody or control of the pet. property or premises other than those of the person owning or having charge, care, custody, or control of the pet.
  • Pets must not be a nuisance or cause damage in the Community.
  • Pets must not be tethered, tied, or chained outside or left outside, including in a fenced yard without the owner or custodian being in attendance.

The HOA is not responsible for any damage to property or physical injury caused by any animals. The Top O’Topanga Rules & Regulations are available from the onsite manager or https://www.topotopanga.org/pets/.


EMERGENCY & SCHEDULED WATER SYSTEM SHUTOFF PROCEDURES

When a major water system leak is discovered, the first action, where possible, is to shut down the system in order to minimize possible damage to homes or infrastructure. We will then do our best to notify the community by whatever means available.

In situations where we need to do scheduled repairs or other system connection work, management will make every effort to notify residents of a shutoff at least 24 hours in advance by email, text or phone.

During our transition to the new water system, both the old and new water systems must remain active until all connections to the new system are completed. There may be occasions when there will be the necessity for an emergency water system shutdown.  To expedite any repairs and minimize down time, water pressure in the system may be released at some community fire hydrants. This is deliberate and required action before work can be completed and the water turned back on.

When the water returns, please run water slowly from a garden hose or kitchen faucet for a minute or so to release any air that may have accumulated in the water lines. Community cooperation and understanding is appreciated.


FOR OWNERS WHO AUTOPAY

Owners who autopay their HOA account need to regularly check their bill to make sure you’re paying the correct amount. There are sometimes changes to service fees, and the system won’t accept payment if it differs from the bill.


REPORTING COMMUNITY RULES VIOLATIONS

TOT management does their best to ensure that rules are followed but cannot be everywhere at once. While no one is expected to put their personal safety at risk by confronting violators, if residents feel comfortable, they can remind another resident of the rules. Every homeowner has been provided a copy of the rules. They are also available from the Office Manager or the topotopanga.org website.

Reporting violations is important, as it initiates the process the Board requires to hold residents and visitors accountable. For non-emergency violations such as pool or trash rules, contact the Onsite Manager with as much information as you can provide. This may include name and/or address of the person (if known), physical description, date, time/duration, location, and description of an incident.

For police and fire emergencies, call 911 directly. For a non-emergency, park security issue, or to report parking in the streets (fire lanes), call Archon Security at (800) 274-5717.


ARE YOU LEAVING YOUR HOME FOR AN EXTENDED PERIOD OF TIME?  HERE ARE SOME PRECAUTIONS YOU SHOULD CONSIDER IN PREPARATION

Some residents in the community with second homes or family to visit or taking vacations and leaving their homes for an extended time should consider some of the following preparations before leaving.

  1. Make sure you have notified the Post Office to divert all mail or have someone collect mail and packages on a regular basis.
  2. Make sure shades, doors and windows are closed and locked and electric garage door operators are turned off or unplugged.
  3. Set random timers on a few lights located around the house to give the appearance of occupancy. LED bulbs use little power and cost only a few cents a month to operate. Outdoor lighting should be on timers or left on as well. Leave a radio on, but not at such a volume that it disturbs neighbors.
  4. Shut off main valve for water line located on the outside of your house. Electricity and gas should remain on.
  5. In the event of a water leak or electrical power outage that may reset your irrigation timer and cause excessive water bills and possible damage to your home and property, irrigation shut-off is advisable.
  6. We don’t have a frost problem in this area that requires freezing weather heating so lowering the heat setting on your thermostats to 50-60 degrees will save you wasted $$ on your heating bill. If you have a tank gas hot water heater, turning down that thermostat will also save money and wear and tear on the water heater. We do not recommend turning off the gas main as relighting pilot lights on your stove and water heater may be difficult to relight when you return.
  7. Please note that any minimum water, electric and gas utility service charges must still be paid monthly, even if shut off locally.
  8. Make sure that any vehicles on the property are properly parked and locked and not intruding into the street. No vehicles can be long-term parked or stored in any common-area parking space. THEY WILL BE TOWED!
  9. It is advisable to notify the Onsite Management Office with the dates that the property will not be occupied and leave emergency contact information in case there is an issue that may require your attention. (This information will be held in confidence.)
  10. If you have anyone using or visiting your home in your absence, you must notify the on-site office for security reasons and obtain parking permits, etc. if required. A reminder that NO STREET PARKING IS ALLOWED, AT ANY TIME!

We hope this information is helpful in the interest of health and safety for all in the community. We hope you have a wonderful holiday season!


USE CAUTION WITH FIRE STICK PLANTS

A concerned resident has advised us that the fire stick plant, which has been planted in numerous yards here (though not in common areas), is highly toxic if touched or ingested.

The non-native Euphorbia tirucalli (also known as Indian tree spurge, naked lady, pencil tree, pencil cactus, fire stick, aveloz or milk bush) produces a poisonous latex that can cause temporary blindness. (Wikipedia)

One should wear protective gloves if trimming or cutting back, wash away any sap that drips while trimming, and put plastic on the ground and wrap the trimmings before disposing of them in the trash, not into the compostable bin containers or community compost bin.


IT’S A BIRD, IT’S A PLANE, IT’S AN SCE DRONE

Southern California Edison (SCE) is utilizing UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, aka drones), to survey and inspect power lines and may be seen flying in our area, as we are a high fire risk area. TOT’s power lines are all underground and safe from fire danger. However, TOT’s power comes from the high-voltage lines that run along Topanga Canyon Blvd and are subject to all kinds of damage.

SPEAKING OF DRONES…

Flying of recreational or commercial drones over Top O’ Topanga property is not allowed, by law, without proper permissions and special aircraft pilot licensing. Use of drones is controlled by both Federal and Local Authorities, and there are severe penalties for illegal drone operation.  Additionally, Top O’ Topanga is located in a controlled airspace zone and under FAA restrictions.

Quality living for all neighbors